The Knights organization has a well-documented history of success in the Western States Hockey League. It all started when the team went by another name, the Phoenix Polar Bears. The Polar Bears struck fear into the rest of the league, and quickly became the most decorated team in WSHL history.
The Polar Bears came to be in 1999. Harry Mahood, who was the team’s head coach and general manager, said during an interview with Arizona Rubber in 2010 that the opportunity fell into his lap. Mahood had just finished working as a consultant for the Phoenix Coyotes, and was about to head back to Germany to coach a team there, when he got a call asking if he was interested in an expansion franchise in the WSHL. What followed that phone call is nothing short of spectacular.
The team’s first two seasons ended without any hardware, but that changed very quickly. Over a span of nine seasons from 2001 to 2010, the Polar Bears brought home seven Thorne Cup, two Thorne Cup runner-ups, a USA Hockey Junior “B” National Championship and a runner-up performance at Nationals. The seven Thorne Cup Championships, along with their nine consecutive trips to the Thorne Cup Finals, are the most in WSHL history. The Idaho Jr. Steelheads are second behind the Polar Bears in the WSHL record books in both categories with four Cups in five straight Finals.
The Polar Bears advanced more than 150 players to higher levels of hockey while having unmatched success in the WSHL. One of those alumni, Jeremy Langlois, signed an NHL contract this summer with the San Jose Sharks. Langlois played with the Polar Bears from 2006 to 2008. Other Polar Bear alumni have come back to the organization and are now behind the bench for the Phoenix Knights. Both Chris Walker, head coach and general manager, and assistant coach Curtis Kelner played for the Polar Bears during the junior careers.
In 2011, the Phoenix Polar Bears were sold to Arizona Hockey Club, Inc. and renamed the Phoenix Knights.